****Philosophy of successful negotiation: In negotiating
assertively, each person should feel that she/he wins.
Each person should get some of what he/she wants.
** Step One:
IDENTIFY the problem
Each person states what seems to be the problem using
"I" statements. Sometimes the negotiation gets bogged
down here as the people involved may disagree about
what the real problem is.
Person #1 "I would like to discuss how we share the
Person #2 "I think the real problem is how we decide
who cleans the kitchen."
Some discussion will be needed before these two
go on with the negotiation so that the subject is
clear to both. The common saying is that they each
need to be "on the same page."
Each person states an opinion. The other person
reflects or restates the opinion as they heard it. Then
you take turns and the second person states an
Example: (Assume the kitchen cleaning is the issue)
Person #1 "I am tired at the end of a hard day at work
and the last thing I want to do is clean the kitchen.
My preference is to leave the dirty dishes until the next
Person #2 "So you are saying that you are tired and
would like to leave the dishes in the sink until tomorrow
Hint: Just because you reflect the other person's opinion,
you are not agreeing with it. In this part of negotiation,
you are simply being a mirror....
** Step Three
BRAINSTORM ideas for the solution
In brainstorming, each person is just throwing ideas onto
the table. During a brainstorming time, it is important to
understand that this is not a time for discussion or judgment.
This is simply an idea-gathering time.
Hint: State as a rule before the negotiation that all ideas
will be respected whether you agree with them or not.
In our example, Person #1 and #2 will sit down together and
suggest ideas to each other. Sometimes it helps to write
the ideas down on a legal pad or an erasable board.
1. Person #1 might say, "Maybe we could throw a dishtowel over the dirty dishes so we wouldn't have to look at them."
2. Person #2 might say, "If we agreed to, then we could each
put the glass we drink from or the plate we ate lunch on in
the dishwasher when we are through."
3. Person #1 (inspired by #2) "Well, maybe if we open the
dishwasher to take a clean dish out of it, we could
then be responsible for emptying the whole dishwasher."
Etc., etc., etc.
PICK a SOLUTION
When you run out of ideas, then it's time to consider all
of them and decide together what might work best.
Make assertive statements about each idea until one
appears to be the best one.
Person #1 "I like the idea of emptying the dishwasher
when we take something out of it. I don't think that
would take too long and it would be one step toward
cleaning the kitchen."
Person #2 "I sometimes take my glass out of the
kitchen. I would have a hard time remembering to
take my dirty dishes back to the kitchen. I don't think
that idea will work well."
** Step Five
Make a CONTRACT
A contract means that you are stating clearly what the
agreement is. A contract needs to be specific and
defined in behavioral terms.
Example: (after more discussion back and forth)
Person #1: "So we are agreeing that if we take a glass
or anything out of the dishwasher when it is full of clean
dishes, then we are obligated to empty the whole dishwasher."
Person #2: "Yes, and emptying the whole dishwasher
includes putting away the silverware and any pots and
pans in the dishwasher. Right?"
** Step Six
TRY OUT the solution
The try out time should be limited.
Person #1: "OK, let's experiment for two weeks. Then let's
get together again and talk about how it worked."
** Step Seven
Examine and LOOK FOR PROBLEMS in the CONTRACT
Both parties need to give their view on the way the contract
worked. What was good about the contract and what needs
changing? Redo the process from the beginning, if necessary.
Person #2: "I seemed to have a hard time emptying the
dishwasher. Part of that was because I grabbed a clean
glass for water as I ran out of the door for work.
I just didn't have time to get the rest of the dishes.
When I came home, planning to empty it at the end
of the day, you had already done it and were mad.
Maybe we need to rethink the mechanics of how this
In the seven steps to successful negotiation,
the most important steps are the first one and the last one.
Identifying the problem clearly is quite a challenge and
deserves respectful thought and definition.
Looking for problems in the contract, even if it means
going back to step one adds to the win/win feeling. If the
contract isn't working, each party has an opportunity to
try again to get closer to what he/she wants.
COMPROMISE is what it is all about. These seven steps
should help you negotiate your way to a win/win compromise.
Linda D. Tillman holds a Ph.D. in psychology from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and is a psychologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Linda has been teaching assertiveness training at the community education department of Emory University for 15 years.
Linda's website, SpeakUpForYourself.com is a website designed to support the continued practice of assertiveness skills and to help students of assertiveness stay focused on
ways to implement what they have learned.